Thursday, October 23, 2014

That's Us in the Spotlight, Losing our Religion

That might be a bit of a corny title, but we really are in the spotlight, quite literally.

In my short lifespan, North America has never seen to me to be the place of chaos, war, assault, attack, or otherwise brutal forces. There have only been one or two events that were huge enough to count - the 9/11 attacks, the Federal building explosion in Oklahoma City in 1995, and a few other much smaller things. Those have all been in the States, not Canada.

Neither world war took place over here. The Cold War resulted in no bombings. All the hell and casualty and human sacrifice has taken place in Europe's backyard, not ours. So it's quite unusual and shocking to have something actually happen here, in this country, in this city.

Last year, it was the Boston Marathon bombing that took up all the news, and later the bus/train collision. That was the most local event of all - it happened right on the edge of Barrhaven, where I live. But that wasn't a world stage-worthy event. For the first time ever, a real terrorist attack occurred here. The sniper didn't get far thankfully - but he did infiltrate the centre block of the Parliament Buildings and he did kill a guard at the War Memorial. That's a huge issue.

It's been unusual to see all of this unfold. Last year I was watching the news about Boston being locked down entirely. Now it's actually downtown, here, that has the same circumstance.

We really got some action, didn't we?

It was a sleepy morning. I had to get up early, at 7am. I drove to the college, dropping my mother off on Woodroffe along the way. I spent the whole class trying to keep myself awake and alert. The entire time was spent listening to student presentations and a class discussion. When we were notified that we could leave, people immediately started referencing the issue about downtown, having silently seen it pop up on their laptops via social media. I hadn't noticed anything other than the unusual 27 tweets on Twitter that had suddenly wanted to pop up. I was too sleepy and tired. I went home while listening to some of the news on the radio, and napped for two hours. Barrhaven is the opposite  direction of downtown. I had nothing to worry about other than my mother across the river.

By the evening, the PM was addressing the country, and CNN was even downtown, interviewing everyone. Thankfully my mother was able to get home early and safely. Everything everywhere was locked down. Except Wal-Mart. I still had to go there and work.

This is one hell of an affair, horrible and brutal and everything in between, but what's clear to me is that this isn't the end. Someone tried to run down military personnel in Quebec a few days ago. Today a man with a gun shot a guard in the morning daylight and then went and shot up the Hall of Honor in the centre block of the Parliament buildings. Both Canadian and American media (not to forget social media) is buzzing with all of this, right at this moment, and it's ten to 1 in the morning. Countries worldwide are stepping up their national security. This is perhaps only the beginning; someone else will no doubt appear somewhere else, sometime soon, with a gun or a bomb under his clothes or a firearm of some sort. This could be a whole new war on terrorism - but the scary thing is that this isn't south of the border in the States anymore, it's in our own backyard, quite literally, right at home. Who knows how safe it will be in the future to hang out downtown.

My respects and condolences go out to the fallen soldier's family. Let's hope, really hope, that this will be the only action Ottawa (or anywhere in Canada) sees. We're not immune to acts of violence like this, no, but we sure aren't used to or acclimated to something like this. No way. This may well be the beginning to a grim reality where violence isn't far from home. Let's hope it doesn't go that way.

Red Cloud

Monday, October 20, 2014


Over the last couple of weeks, I've mulled over an idea that is both perhaps good in some ways as well as bad in others. In one, I could connect with people, and in the other, I could be harming my self-image (from my point of view) and principles.

I ended up not doing it, for a few reasons. The "it" is online dating.

Up to now, I always regarded that kind of idea as reserved for those who were desperate or, for any variety of negative or stereotypical reasons, hard of starting relationships with those they prefer to start them with (man or woman, or both). In my mind, I wasn't forty yet, I wasn't that pathetic, I wasn't that desperate and I wasn't that incapable, yet.

Now those are very negative, offensive reasons. I completely admit that. Perhaps there are people out there who do feel that way and do resign themselves to doing something like that, and I feel sorry for their lack of self-esteem. I've come to realize that there are people my age - not over thirty - who actually do participate in some kind of online match-up app or website, largely just for fun. That's why I mulled it over in my head and considered it.

Maybe I could connect with people. Maybe it would help me get 'out there' and maybe I could garner some good experience as a result. I'm not very good at starting relationships (of any kind) with people. While I have approached girls and talked to them, those have always been girls who have 'the look.' I have a pattern with that. They look attractive to the point that I have to do something, and even then it takes me a little while to start. Of course I find other girls who do not match this type I have attractive - I am not so narrow in my interests that you have to have green eyes, a round face, and dark hair for me to approach you - but it might as well be that way because I am too shy to actually start talking. Those that don't match my type are attractive - but my shyness and introversion outweighs my motivation to (eventually) walk up and say hi, my name is, etc. etc.

That was the potential positive aspect to trying the online version of relationships. But I'm not doing it.

My opinion about the idea now is that, yes, there are people, my age, who do it just for the fun of it, it's an option and maybe they'll get something good out of it, but I'm not jumping into that until I've ultimately failed, in every possible way, to actually talk to a girl who looks attractive - and isn't merely 'my type.' It's for those looking for fun - as well as those who simply can't just walk up to a girl or boy they find attractive and introduce themselves, talk, find common ground, and develop a relationship that way.

Online dating hasn't been around for a long time in consideration of our time here. People got together before it came along, we coped, and there's no reason for me or anyone else to be not able to do the same. Online dating is a cheat in a mildly difficult game. I'm not ready to give up and cheat yet. I'm not that cowardly and if I can approach a girl that has 'the look,' I can most definitely approach a girl who doesn't but is just attractive enough as she is.

Red Cloud

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Impulsiveness of Digital

When you compare something old-fashioned to something new and modern, an entire mentality goes with each. And normally, the new and modern tends to be faster or easier than the old fashioned.

When you take pen and paper and write, you're going to have a different process than if you were to type - I've said this before. It's a different mind process as well as a different physical one. Typing (if you know how to) is easily faster, and deleting prose on a screen is likewise.

What I intend to focus on is film photography versus digital.

Film photography still exists. I think it's become more niche, but not nearly as niche as some of the original ways and methods still used today by extreme minorities. For instance, there are archaic methods - like glass plate tinting - to develop film that was practiced in the 1850s that some small hobby groups still use today. Polaroid cameras probably still enjoy a popularity among some people.

You can't take someone who has grown up almost entirely with digital cameras, give them a point and shoot film camera, and expect them to get great, clear, composed shots. Not when they are singularly used to smartphone cameras and tiny digital point and shoots. I know this thanks to an experience with my grandfather's film SLR. He had it out at one family dinner, and anyone could freely pick it up and take photos with it. Anyone from uncles to cousins. When I saw the developed results weeks later, 98% of the images in the pamphlet had turned out blurry or useless.

I remember my cousin playing with it, snapping shots of me one after the other, quickly. I kind of felt unsure about that as the shutter snapped. The camera didn't use a 64-gig memory card. It used a twenty-four image film roll.

There are obvious reasons why digital photography has ruined the style and mentality of film photography (for young amateurs in the digital age, anyway):

- Space. You can put a tiny 15 gigabyte MiniSD inside a cell phone and take hundreds of photos. Therefore you have virtually free reign to how you take your photos; you don't have to worry about using up all your space with bad images because you have so much of it, and you can delete the crappy photos.

-Instant images. You can immediately view what you've taken, eliminating the need for patience as well as the concern for quality. For film, you have to wait for it to be developed, which is going to cause you to take more care of what you're snapping, because who wants to wait an hour or more only to receive a blurry, careless image?

-Advanced camera functions. By this point, digital technology has advanced in such a helpful way for us. You can set a camera to evaluate every point of basis for capturing an image, from appropriate shutter speed to ISO, and you can set it to avoid issues such as motion-blur or low light with in-camera settings or automatic detection. Furthermore, if you're good on the computer, you can use Adobe Photoshop to fix an image's exposure, white balance, dirtiness, etc. etc. You can't really scan a film print into the computer and fix its exposure - you're not able to gain anymore information from the clipped pixels that the scanner didn't already expose/create. Try brightening a dark image with mostly blacks from a 4x6 film print. All you'll do is turn it a murky grey without revealing anything.

Digital cameras are set up to do the majority of the hard work for you, they have the space for thousands of images that can be deleted, and you can see the image first-hand right away. That creates an information-hungry mentality that's impatient, impulsive, and invulnerable considering you can retake an image and have the result right away. So when my younger cousins pick up the film SLR and carelessly snap a picture at a subject impulsively, they aren't taking into account the exposure, ISO, f/stop, or whether the flash is on or off, and they get a motion-blurry image of a careless subject they could have deleted on a digital camera in an instant after seeing the result - in an instant. And they run out of film fast.

The only images that turned out in the package were ones that happened to be taken by me; I looked through the viewfinder and saw an extreme clarity when the lens focused, more than what I was used to with my digital SLR. It was beautiful. I took my shots with care, and they turned out very nice. Film photography is often undervalued - it has great density and depth to it, and often an interesting colour cast. And it has a detail that reveals an essence to the clarity and look of the image that you just don't see in a shiny, processed digital image. I see some character.

This impulsive, instantaneous way of information-sharing doesn't just apply to photography but to virtually any modern thing. I think it's why people can't focus on anything at once for very long anymore - they need more, they can't wait, hurry, rush, we need information, we need the webpage to load, the video to buffer, the feed to update, the image to appear on our screens. Where's the good old anticipation and excitement?

Red Cloud

Monday, October 13, 2014

Canadian Family Experience, The

Or, rather, the experience of my father's family.

This Thanksgiving weekend, I was able to get off work early and visit with my paternal relatives at my uncle's for dinner Sunday, and a regathering today of sorts. To my interest, three strangers happened to be dining with what cousins I had there. They turned out to be all part of my cousin Tom's entourage - two Americans and an Englishman.

It makes me wonder what would happen if I brought friends from college to a family affair with my paternal relatives. It's an experience, all right.

I'm not putting it down of course, don't get me wrong. I'm just analyzing it. Three friends from university in Montreal decide and agree to spend their Thanksgiving in Ottawa with their mutual friend Tom. What does that entail? Going to his uncle's, where almost half of his cousins, uncles, aunt, and grandparents will be. Not very unusual. But we're coming into onscreen stereotypically warm family territory here. You have adults, young adults, and a girl running around. Everyone is welcoming and warm - to the point none of the friends are grouped together but explaining their back-histories to grandparents and uncles and the wives of uncles in various parts of the house. Not entirely overwhelming by this point I'm sure.

The next day, after time with the host, they end up - back at his grandparent's, where three cousins are hanging out (myself and two others). Everyone's together again, playing badminton and sitting at the table - but that's not the end of the introductions, because an uncle has gotten the host's sister on Skype on a tablet and passing it around to each person individually, including each visitor. Then an aunt wants a picture of everyone - all the cousins and the foreigners - grouped together happily, as if they were cousins too.

I would guess that this is a traditional Canadian welcome. I've heard that the Maritimes are just as, if not more so, openly hospitable to anyone. They put on a big spread. But I just thought it was the Maritimes. Not Ottawa folk as much.

It goes to show, I guess, what coming to Canada is like, if you're visiting your Canadian friend's family. One was from London, England. Another was from Wisconsin and ironically looked like Hyde from That 70's Show. The third was from northern California. Very diverse. They come here and even though they're only friends of my cousin's in university, they might as well be family despite only being here for the weekend.

The world stage pegs us as nice people. I guess this proves it. I unwittingly proved the stereotype that we say "eh" to one of the Americans. However, if I were in that position, I can't help not feeling I'd be a little overwhelmed at the instant welcome and absorption into the extended family like that. So many relatives, in person (and even on Skype) all at once, and getting pictures and embracing you like a nephew or a son. It's nice, no doubt, I would just think that some people might feel a little 'taken-in' by the instantaneous outpouring of love.

I'm not putting it down. It's just an idea and feeling I get in observing an experience like that. If it were reversed and I were friends with the girl from California and visiting, and every relative from her father's family came at me all at once, loving and all, I might feel a bit overwhelmed. At least they all took it in stride and reciprocated immediately. It was a nice experience. And a nice picture. I'm standing with a guy who sits next to Suggs from Madness at English Chelsea games. Pretty neat.

Red Cloud

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Wild Horses

As per is the custom for me these days, I heard a song I liked on the radio while driving home from the college today. I've never counted how many songs Boom 99.7 has given me to listen to. I really should. That list I put out in June is hopelessly out of date now. I should really update it.

The song had a yearning, forlorn-sounding fretless bass part that I liked, and the drums were a constant brush-stricken rhythm. While I at first decided it was an alright song that was good but not enough for me to want to look it up, the tune stuck with me until I finally looked it up a few minutes ago.

It took me a few tries to get something close to resembling the actual lyrics when I Googled them, giving me songs ranging from Taylor Swift to Johnny Cash and the Rolling Stones, but when I saw the name 'Gino Vanelli,' I almost knew for certain that that would be the song - after all, Boom is virtually loyal to broadcasting Canadian content, and I of course turned out to be right. Who else would it be?

The sound of the song definitely made sense to me because I saw a good similarity to his other song 'Just a Motion Away,' which has a similar yearning to it. That song makes me think of good memories, or seeing memories of a certain time in a nostalgic light. The three distinct piano notes - A-B-C - as well as the general procession of the chorus really communicate that feeling to me. The only other song I know of his - and don't like very much - is 'Black Cars.' I like the lyrics. I just think its keyboards and riffs sound silly and way too over-the-top. It sounds awesome during the summer when I've just gotten inside my own black car after having it parked in the sun for hours. But that's just the lyrics.

I think this current song will go on to be something I habitually listen to for awhile. I like the music video quite a bit, for its monochrome, scenes, and lady. The musicians sometimes switch around - I was surprised by an obese guy on the drums a few times, out of nowhere - but the lighting and place just looks nice to me. It seems forlorn like the song, and the direction of light (in my orienting the direction of the camera and placement of people) matches the afternoon light I synesthetically view the music in.

There's one other large aspect, and it's Gino Vanelli himself. You'll have to excuse me for this, but for some reason, if I felt that I looked like anyone, it was him. Had my hair been a bit more curly, my glasses off my face, and my jawline clear of any beard (and moustache) I could pass off as this guy.

I normally never think anyone could look much like me. I've never seen any example. The only people who have ever claimed I look like anyone else they knew was my "ex" from Calgary (who I heartily disagreed with as the person she showed me had a ridiculous moon face, no beard, and had virtually no similarities in eyes or hair) and that girl I had that short-lived friendship with last year, who had "The Look." That was an unusual experience because while I was busy comparing her to all the other lookalikes, I was already a lookalike of - or that other person - to her.

Gino Vanelli is the closest to come to looking like me from my eyes. Largely thanks to how his eyes look. And as a result, I kind of like watching the video because I get the false, superficial feeling that I'm watching someone like myself.

I'll stop going on about that for now. It's a very selfish, egotistical reason to like a song or music video - "hey, he looks like me!" - and doesn't provide very cordial reading material. I like the song. Gino Vanelli has a nice voice, and an obviously kind temperament in how he performs. He comes from Montreal.

It's a nice song. I hope I can do that sometime in my future. Would be neat to look cool in a video performing a song. I cannot sing though.

[Update]: In watching it again, the girl who plays harmonica also has a passing resemblance to that 'look' I find attractive with the eyes. Add in what sounds like a very quiet background keyboard melody towards the end, and the way I see myself in terms of face when I look at Vanelli, and from my perspective it's a perfect diorama of me with my 'type' including the beautiful, loving synesthetic reaction I get from that background keyboard in the end. Wow. Gee.

Red Cloud

Sunday, October 5, 2014

That Musical Moment

I get these moments now and then in music when I see something so clear or perfectly aligned with something else that it makes me excited and happy.

It happened earlier this year with that 'Roam' song by The B-52's. That bit of song was quite a cause for excitement that teetered on euphoria because of the type of face that came to mind, and someone I used to know. I don't listen to that as much as I used to - it's passing its course, and that part of the song will make me smile happily at most.

It seems to be almost the best when it makes me see myself. Tonight was one of those moments, with the song 'Walking on the Moon' by The Police.

I've known the song for about five years now - the earliest I can remember hearing it for the first time was in my bedroom around probably 2004, back in the old neighbourhood. I think I found it boring and lazy at the time because I was only paying attention to the music. I'd been trying to find old 80s songs I might like on Bob FM on a small boombox radio in my room, and that song had been one of the few that had popped up. That had been my real introduction to The Police, and Sting's high-pitched vocals, but I wasn't listening to them, just waiting for the lazy-sounding song to end. I was thirteen. I was inexperienced and dumb with my ears back then.

I say 'five years' because I never really heard or paid attention to it (though I'd meanwhile discover other Police songs ironically through the morning announcements in high school) until I saw The Police interviewed on a show hosted by Elvis Costello in summer 2009. I completely forget the title of the program or what it really was about, but Sting, Andy Summers, and Stuart Copeland were all interviewed separately, and then they played together (with Costello) that exact song - 'Walking on the Moon.' I fell in love with it right then. I really liked the dreamy 'walking back from your house' lyric.

I wonder if I ever really reviewed it on here before, but I'm not really doing that now. I was looking at a guitar tutorial on the song on YouTube, and I found the chorus chords quite interesting and inviting. The guy explained that the chords were A sharp major - not surprised, the bass plays that note - D minor 7 (surprised, as the bass plays an F, but it makes musical sense), C major (not surprising) and G minor (perfect). He played them very brightly (his amp or foot board presets notwithstanding), not really strumming the lower strings.

It made perfect alignment to my perceived self at that moment.

I've had a bit of a disappointing day. I did something very unusual for someone like me and asked a girl out, who explained in a positive manner that she had homework; when I went on the break the 'date' of sorts was to happen, she was reading a paper instead of doing what would have made it not work. As a result I've been feeling a bit bitter - not at the girl in particular but at my slow pace and everything else. So the chords played on their own like that - as well as in the song - really meshed perfectly in that manner.

A# major and D7 minor are, in that context, quite light, bright, cheery chords. There's a bit of flatness to the D7 but played on the higher strings and strummed right after the A# brightens the chord up. Then you've got C major and G minor, which have a bit of a disagreement with each other. One's higher up - the guy plays all these chords between the fifth and seventh frets, but he places C major way up on the 8th fret - and the other, G minor, is darker and bitter.

It translates, for me, into a personality that is in general bright and striving to have a happy face that also has a caring element to it, while at the same time not always getting things out the way he wants to or means to, and underneath it all has a hidden feeling of disappointment and bitterness at what he's had happen in life, or not happen. The A# is bright and happy, the D7 brightly interested and caring, the C off in the other direction and of different opinion or feeling than most, and the G minor bitter and lacking, poker-faced.

I like the G minor the most partly because I do feel that way at the moment, but also because I think I've, at least in the past ten years, always had an underlying feeling of bitterness or a darker view of people and circumstances in general. I'm not saying I'm angry or anti-social or pessimistic, but rather lacking in what I should have made a better effort to do for myself. I've met some pretty interesting people, but it's my fault just as much. So it's an inner bitterness, not an exterior one projected entirely at the world.

The C really refers to how I'm kind of different from most typical people, at least socially or how I think about things, or perceive them. And the first two chords are just as evident and true and meaningful - that's my outer face, or the one I'm striving to always have regardless of the situation. Perhaps it's one I like to imagine having or see myself having, but not always succeeding in maintaining.

I've tried playing it on my guitar. The A#, D7, and G minor aren't difficult, but the C is (which is exactly as it sounds to me) because it's way up on the eighth fret, and by that point they're quite narrow; I have to put two fingers on the same fret for strings next to each other, another a fret to the right (left-handed) and another finger barring the entire 8th fret. Not a difficult position to attain at the bottom of the neck, but at the bottom, it wouldn't sound outwardly different in its brightness compared to the other three.

I've got my musical moment, though. It's a rare one in which I see my general personality virtually perfectly. And this is from a song I thought as a 13-year-old was lazy and boring. No way man. It's gentle and bright and something to wind down to. I love bright guitar sounds. The easy pace.

'Walking back from your house...'

Red Cloud

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


About a month ago, my father got in contact with me after a month's silence. Having moved across the ocean to the middle east for a big career opportunity (he is in charge of the Canadian embassy in Iraq while the full ambassador is out, one big step towards working his way to being a full Canadian ambassador and Plenipotentiary) our contact is very sporadic. He tried creating a Facebook profile, but only got as far as adding me as a friend and locating a photo I hadn't gotten around to e-mailing him. Social media isn't his thing.

Not that his business is what I'm devoting this post to, but in late August, John Baird made a stop to the country to meet with officials and proclaim that Canada is on their side in being allies against ISIS (or ISIL, whatever they're called). As a result, the e-mail my father sent me was of him standing in a small group with Baird. It was, in a small way, kind of cool. At least he was getting in on the events and action his job probably promised him.

That turned out not to be all, however. This morning, the National Post, which I follow on Twitter, retweeted a post by John Baird. It had nothing to do with what it got me thinking about or anything, just made me wonder if there were perhaps any other images that happened to be taken.

There was.
The image is self-explanatory, though my Dad is on the left edge, looking on.

And so the man who never found social media calling him forward ended up inserted on there by none other than the Foreign Affairs Minister himself.

I find it kind of ironic. Yes, it's cool that my own father is hanging out with all these important people  in Iraq and getting his picture taken by a minister of the federal government, but hey, looks like I'm not the only one uploading pictures on social media that include him. If he ever made an effort on Facebook, this picture could be his cover photo. Taken courtesy of John Baird. An important man with important responsibilities. Perfect for an 'about.'

Yeah, I find it ironic and funny. Two of his brothers are on Facebook, and his sister has that as well as Twitter and all the other social media sites, but he only exists as a presence of any kind thanks to his eldest son and a government minister.

I haven't found any desire to pack my bags and travel to Jordan, the base for his family, yet. In the limited time I saw my half-siblings this past summer when they visited, they described the place as boring and limiting in things to do other than go to a mall. Not that I don't ever want to go - it seems like it could be a neat place to travel to - but it might be awhile. If that time comes, I'll definitely be sure to post some pictures. And I hope my father does end up as a full diplomat in the capacity my grandpa had back in the day. Then he'll probably have to deal with social media.

Red Cloud

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fly Day

Eleven years ago, my mother saw an ad in the paper, on my 12th birthday, of a 'Fly Day' going on at the Ottawa Flying Club, at the international airport. Knowing how insanely excited and hopeful to want to do something like that, my mother took me and my then-friend Jahdel on a couple of bus rides to the flying club on Huntclub Road.

Being three people, it was a wait of at least an hour.
When we did get on a plane, it was a tiny thing - apparently the small ones are called Cessnas. The pilot explained things, and then we taxied to the runway and took off.

It was my first time flying. I'd never seen any of the city from that perspective before - by that time I'd seen and become obsessed with aerial photos of it, but I'd never been up there before. All the aerial photos I'd seen were taken looking straight-down. Looking out the window, you could look out at the distance and landscape as well.
Looking east over South Keys.

It was extremely exhilarating for me. I'd never seen so much at once before. Places and settings I'd always viewed as large or all-around from the ground - such as a road like Merivale or big trees, or malls - appeared either remarkably small or just tiny. Tiny cars sluggishly moved along the roads. I saw a lot of familiar places, although not the neighbourhood in which I lived at the time (the tour went in a circle around the city rather than through it).
Passing Arlington Woods in the west end.

My mother took all the photos with her Kodak film point and shoot. I couldn't wait for the photos to be developed. Most of them were of areas I didn't recognize that well, or of downtown, but they were still pretty neat.

Back then, I only knew that that was the only time that the Flying Club did this sort of thing. I thought it was a once-only event. The best birthday. Until yesterday, when a friend of mine on Facebook posted about it, having just been. What?!

Within half an hour I was above Ottawa again, sitting up front this time, with a mother and her son in the back. I drove to the airport in fifteen minutes, paid $40, registered the ticket, and because I was on my own, instead of waiting an hour, I was on the plane in five minutes with two strangers. This time I had my Canon 7D dSLR camera, with a wide-angle lens on it. This would be much clearer and brilliant compared to the little 4x6 point and shoot photos.

We set off in the opposite direction than in 2003. We went straight northwest instead of northeast. I was ready.
The woods just by Grenfell Glen, during the ascent to 2,000 feet. Sept. 27.

I took up to one-hundred images. We flew towards Bayshore, and then arced so we were flying alongside the Ottawa River.
I've always thought that the round curve of Centrepointe made it look like a burlap sack. The obviousness of the grey Merivale Road commercial strip is evident in the background.
West Huntclub snakes through the land. For some reason this image is squeezed.

Like the last time, we went in a large circle, going the opposite direction this time around. We started over the communities of Pine Glen and Merivale Gardens, etc., passed west across Woodroffe Ave. and Craig Henry, and eventually headed by Bayshore. We arced to fly over Gatineau alongside the Ottawa River.
The amazing thing about flying at this height is the distance you can see. You can virtually see Woodroffe Avenue in its whole entirety in this image - beginning at the Ottawa River Parkway near the bottom and fading away into the distance - whereupon it terminates at Prince of Whales Drive at the Rideau River past Barrhaven. Places like Algonquin College's campus and Baseline Station are tiny, narrow points along the road. Baseline station, when you zoom into the image at the maximum pixel density, is about an inch long. The big pedestrian bridge between Algonquin's B building and the new-ish construction building is hardly visible, as well as the rail bridge further down.

2,000 feet is a very good balance for height because while you can see so far looking ahead, you can also look straight down and see people and smaller objects like poles or stop signs, or even birds and seagulls flying much lower below. You get a vivid amount of detail as well as visibility in all directions, going very far.

This entire flight was an extremely big deal for me. For one thing, I hadn't done this in eleven years. For another, the very feeling of being up in the air, over everything - it's something I long for and feel completely at home in. I feel free in a way - you're going very fast, virtually gliding through the air in any direction you want, nothing in your way. You don't have to follow a road or a path, or walk around buildings or trees or fences. You're above it all. And you can see virtually everything - it's an entirely new perspective. I can look at these photos I took and marvel at how many familiar buildings I shot in this perspective, as well as how far away I can see them from (if you know where to look, in the above image, the roof of the Merivale Centennial Arena (or Tom Brown Arena) is easily visible in the far distance. Why? It's a tiny, insignificant building. Because the grey-white roof reflects sunlight extremely well, so it's easy to pick out even across the Ottawa River).

It's also just the way everything is so much smaller and low. Buildings look like little models. I'm used to virtually everything in the world being bigger or taller than me - now all of that is way below, smaller. These images have some impact, but not nearly as much as being up there does.

I strongly think that in the near future, I'll end up taking flying lessons. Find a way to capture aerial photos at the same time. When I get my real career started, it can be something I do on the weekends. That along with building my own recording studio. As long as I focus entirely on my homework and my studies now.
Bank Street/Alta Vista intersection.

We continued east until we banked towards the eastern side of the city and came back towards facing the runway; we flew over Olgilvie Road and St. Laurent, over Alta Vista, past South Keys, and eventually the runway, descending since just after Alta Vista. The plane ride really was only twenty minutes, but I got that rare, amazing, brilliant glimpse of the whole city as it was on that day. I love aerial photography because it really does capture a record of what the city, or a section of it, looks like on that day and time. Ottawa in September 2014. There's the old military base and its empty, houseless streets, there's the new apartment building under construction off of Merivale Road. One street in Centrepointe appears to have more yellow trees than the rest, having already turned their autumn colour. On Friday, I had lunch with my mother at Red Lobster in the plaza at Meadowlands and Merivale; Saturday, I got a picture of it - as well as the whole road itself, and everything around it.

Yeah, I'm definitely going to start frequenting the flying club and school. I talked to someone afterwards and heard that they're always interested in taking people up. Maybe next time I can get some real, direct pictures of Barrhaven and Parkwood Hills.
Sports field, South Keys.

I'm on my way to new highs. After all, if I was born to do anything, it's to get high.

Red Cloud

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Say Hello

Looking over the previous post below, it's really gone on to be something in my mind that was really only inspired by a couple of assumptions that I'd made that were negative. The next morning, I had so many positive counter-thoughts that my worries seemed entirely redundant.

For example, the whole notion that I'm late is just another way of comparing myself to others, which in itself is a needless, pointless mental drain. Everyone moves at different speeds. Some people have disadvantages, or had them before but they're not as serious or obvious now, such as in my case. The point is to simply continue to move past it.

Another big deal is the way one might assume everything is personal, which I do constantly, in the negative and positive ideals. If a girl I thought liked me didn't look at me as much as she did the previous day, I think there's an issue she has with me when I have no clue and therefore no reason to assume so. Conversely if she looks at me more than the day before, I think I'm the reason too. Which is okay for self-esteem in small amounts but dangerous in excess.

People live in their own heads. Probably 90% of their actions are based on their own internal judgments and decisions rather than what they think of someone. My battle with not taking things personal is difficult in the moment but easy to get over afterwards; I was dealing with that the night I wrote that post, whereas the next morning I instantly considered all the realities. Battle won.

While I might pessimistically see myself as socially 'late,' there's also the ground I've made up already that I fail to consider in a mood like that. Like how I was before high school, and then afterwards. Particularly when I started my current part-time job three years ago. I was closed-up, shy, probably a little more immature, definitely less experienced in social constructs and personality, and quiet like a mouse. Now I'm gifted with the experience, maturity, wisdom and knowledge of some of the great people I've worked with, regardless of whether or not I work in a male-dominated department of the store.

Finally, I would be extremely callous to suggest that my 'track-record' of past relationships with girls is mostly on them. It's a mixture of circumstance, coincidence, and a shared amount of mistakes and immaturity on my part and the part of the person involved. They're all experiences I learned from. While each girl gave me some (or a lot) of grief, they also gave me wisdom and experiences I would otherwise never have, both with the opposite sex as well as with myself. Some more than others, but all definitely contributed.

Really, in the end, I should consider myself lucky. I don't have an obvious disability, mentally or physically; I'm overcoming or minimizing any negative autism-related traits (consider that for years I had a bald spot on my head thanks to hand twitches) which almost counts out that disadvantage, really; I'm working on myself for the better, whether in accomplishing my final education or in my interests (such as the piano lessons) and with whatever demons I have left, I'm going through each of them, one by one. I'm also not a bad-looking guy, if you don't mind the beard and moustache. Hairstylists love my hair - they always compliment the volume it has.

Anyway, if it's a struggle, it's really only because I took something personally for no good reason. I'll get over it.

You would be surprised at how someone's day can be completely turned if you just say hello or smile. Say hello. It's nice, acknowledging, and also the title of a song I recently discovered by Canadian band April Wine. 'Take me high, say hello.' I'll do a review of that song sooner or later.

Red Cloud

Monday, September 22, 2014

From One Disadvantage to Another Perspective

I'm going to briefly go from music-related words to something a little more, unusually, personal.

No one, including myself, can describe my life very well - I doubt anyone could describe theirs very well either. It's way too complicated. I'm shy but warm; I'm mild-mannered but sometimes blunt. I have a mild form of autism called Asperger's* but I'm high-functioning to the point you wouldn't necessarily notice it unless you were looking. I have synesthesia in such a huge way that it is entirely how I perceive and comprehend entire thoughts, or anything from words to music to feeling coming at me.

In the recent past I led a negative view of everything. I put an extreme torture on myself by blaming or getting extremely angry inwards and never outwards. In my head I was my own disciplinarian, in terms of instead of making myself do homework I'd mentally punish myself for getting a lower mark afterwards. The song 'Taking it all too Hard' by Genesis, in terms of how I'd treat myself after social blunders or negative experiences, is a perfect example lyrically.

I wasn't born that way of course. But I was born with that needless disadvantage, with that autism-related disorder. And thanks to how I was as a result of that at a younger age (and really, I was much more "aspergers"-like at nine or ten than I am at twenty-three) I ended up always a social loner, misfit and sometimes bullied. I had difficulty making friends from the time I was in kindergarten. In elementary school, I had, from grades one to six, two friends at most - and the second one was on-and-off, and in sixth grade only. I never understood math no matter what grade or how old I was. Either way, I began to develop a pessimistic attitude towards my social life in general (from the first primary school friend I ended up with a temperamental second best friend throughout middle school - but he was it) and having a cruel bully mixed with negative, opposing personalities by eighth grade no doubt ensured I felt alone and ostracized.

The developed negative perspective, of course, only maintained that I would continue to struggle socially. That, mixed with my already past-obvious differences in manner and disposition (the Aspergers) and my having always been an introvert. Then comes high school and more peers, but because of my inexperience at building friendships and maintaining them in a normal, appropriate way, I simply alienated those I actually managed to get close to by coming on way too strong. I had little idea of how strong or weak I should have been in my approach, and those resultant negative experiences only deepened that pessimism. Not that some of those people and their pompous or self-centred personalities helped (though just about any teen is like that, really).

I never approached girls in high school. I often looked at any that I found attractive, after I finally stopped yearning for a girl that was interested in me in seventh grade. That was all, though - I'd already had bitter life experiences with those in the same gender, I wasn't about to be confident enough as a result to actually do that (until my senior year). It was almost too late by then, and the one I asked happened to apparently return my attraction and interests while also planning to move across the country shortly afterwards.

I approach girls now - but usually after an extended period of assuming they like me after many return glances, and if I like them. But I never did in high school, which ended five years ago. Perhaps that doesn't sound like the end of the world, but it would have been nice to have the experience, the resulting social network, and the lessons, bitter or bright, from those relationships.

My track record with the opposite sex is funny: The first turned out gay, the second never happened, the third had a boyfriend and southwestern Ontario to go to, the fourth resulted in a three-year online-only thing that the distance and her sheltered, melodramatic, emotional issues killed, the fifth ended up trying to distance my old friend from me in the place they worked while hiding behind a muffin dispenser, the sixth ended up with a classmate in the maritimes, the seventh had an unimaginable amount of emotional baggage, mental baggage, and ultimate issues with disagreement (that was an adventure), the eighth withdrew in shyness, and the current ninth appears to be doing the same.

It was only in March of this year that I realized the whole pessimistic charade was always going to ensure I ended up making no friends or ensuring those I did make were relatively short-lived. That was when I started trying to talk to my female co-workers just for the practice of actually talking to girls. The result is a brighter outlook and a more positive vibe, but nothing works overnight. I'm extremely late. Most my age would have had at least two or more relationships and the best I can say is "well, I used to online-chat with a girl living in Calgary. We even webcam-chatted after the first two years." Nice.

It can be totally hard sometimes. I can think, well, I have my education to finish and a career to try to start. That's important. Except that if I don't accomplish some kind of thing soon, I'm going to eventually be older and appear more unfortunate or sad to people. If I do get anywhere, I'll do a disastrous job of the relationship because I have no experience.

I can't blame my little disorder; that's the lazy, stupid idea because I've overcome a lot of things that set me apart from a 'neurotypical' person. There are always certain differences ingrained in my personality or head that set me apart, but they don't exclude me from anything social. It's up to me to have the positive outlook and the confidence to put myself into things or conversations with people at work, men and women. I've been doing all right. It just feels like a struggle sometimes, where I feel like I'm too late and at a severe disadvantage with my lack of experience and my tendency to somehow pick every person that will cause me grief somehow. I don't try to pick those people - I never knew they were anything like they were until I properly came to know them.

My old friend Shawn once called me 'Charlie Brown'. His reasoning was that the world keeps giving me crap yet I tend to come back from it. Not really; I just became more bitter and pessimistic yet mild-mannered and warm regardless. But I'm trying. Ever since March. The friend in middle school who only thought about himself, he's the past. The girl who hid behind the muffin dispenser, she's the past too.

It's just a bit of a struggle sometimes. In a few years, maybe it'll be different. I just hate being so bloody late.

*The term is apparently no longer a real term anymore but I could care less.

Red Cloud

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I-v-VI-IV (Dmin)

If I put something like this down:


What would you get out of it?

I figured this out earlier today when I was looking up that 'Lovefool' song by the Cardigans in my interest in Swedish musical acts while writing the review below. The entry gave something very similar to what I have up there, and I worked it out in a minute or so. It did kind of roughly sound like the song on my keyboard, or at least basically. I knew by this point how the numerals referred to steps in the noted scale - I being one, and because it's a capital I, a major chord.

To work out the procession of numerals above (which is one of the easiest processions in music already) you'd simply see that 'Dm' refers to 'D major scale.' So I would mean D major as a chord, as the root is named after the scale, followed by a lowercase v - a minor chord five steps in the scale from the root, which in this case is A minor. Then you have ii, which is a minor chord the second step in, so E minor. The final numeral in the procession is four, which is lowercase as well, so a G minor chord. Played together and that plays the piano of the chorus of, yeah, 'Our House.'

Obviously not every song stays in the exact same key, although I'm wondering if that's the case with today's music. Above I have the entire musical structure of the whole Madness song. It wasn't horribly difficult to figure out, especially considering both the verses and the chorus of the song use the exact same procession, but in two different major keys. C and D major. Only the bridge goes somewhere different in G major.


'Walking Like an Egyptian,' The Bangles.

I find the whole musical construct quite interesting. And none of those Roman numeral mean a thing unless you have the accompanying scale with it. And extra wordings or symbols can be added to them, whether it's a tiny 7 or a 'sus' or a tiny 5, whatever. Those just refer to that step being a seventh or fifth chord, or a suspended one.


'Losing my Religion,' R.E.M. That song is in natural minor.

I wonder if I should try a series of posts or even YouTube videos (quite ambitious for me) dedicated to explaining how popular songs work using both this as well as other explanations. It's quite interesting to me.

By the way, the title translates as D major, A minor, C major and G major.

Red Cloud

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Centenarian From Sweden

On Thursday, I picked up a novel from the bookstore while having some minor time to kill (I was taking my mother around to a few appointments). Intrigued, I read some of the first chapter.

As a result I ended up buying it and finishing it last night by half past one in the morning. The book was titled The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared.

It's a book that was published in Sweden, and written by a Swedish author, about a Swedish man who comes from said country. In my experience the novel isn't the first neat or interesting or nice thing to come from that place; in my childhood, although produced by a Canadian animation company, I enjoyed the adventures of Pippi Longstocking while at another point hearing 'The Sign' by Ace of Base playing in the background out in the yard. While I don't like all of ABBA's songs, they have talent and international recognition and presence, and that music video by Robyn is yet just another image/sound from my childhood. Even that silly-sounding 'Lovefool' song is Swedish. Roxette has the look as well as the sound. And finally, while I have never tried out the whole The Girl With...series, I have this work of literature under my belt as a fun, interesting, humorous read. The country is probably the next one after Canada, the UK, and the US to provide my life with good music, cartoons (perhaps Canadian-made but Swedish-originated/set) and literature.

The novel goes forward in two ways: One chapter details main character Allan Karlsson's life and activities in the present (which in the book is May 2005) just after his 100th birthday. The next chapter covers his life over several years in a prior decade, telling his life story from the beginning. This goes in a sort of present-past-present-past arrangement in chapters so you get a story of what's happening now combined with how he got to now since his birth in May 1905.

Spoiler alert below.

Allan Karlsson's life is pretty eventful. He is born to a father whose views are considered unconventional and unaccepted, and these outspoken views lead the family to become looked upon adversely. After his father dies in Russia near the same time Tsar Nicholas II and his family are killed, his mother goes to work providing firewood to a wholesaler who is suspicious of young Allan (thanks to his relation to his 'crazy' father), who himself goes to work in an explosives factory. This leads to the teenager creating his own company after his mother dies soon after. He combines different materials together to create different reactions and tests these new explosives in a pit behind the house, upon which the wholesaler who still feels nervous towards the young man accidentally crashes into it in his brand new car. Allan accidentally blows the man up, leading to his being put into an asylum and sterilized.

Having absolutely no political opinion or interest whatsoever, or any religious interests, Allan eventually gets released and befriends a Spanish man in a foundry he finds work at as a rare ignition specialist thanks to his background. They end up leaving together for Spain, where his friend, very political by contrast, ends up immediately killed in the civil war. With nothing better to do, he offers to blow up bridges for the socialist army his friend was in as long as he can wear his own jacket; near the end, having set up a custom where no one is killed in the explosions he detonates, he ends up saving General Franco from being killed when he crosses a bridge about to go; because he looks like a civilian, Franco ends up taking him to dinner (by this point Allan has learned Spanish) and he switches sides immediately in a war he has no opinion or knowledge or understanding of. The war ends the next day, and with the help of Franco (who gives him his unconditional protection) he sets out on a ship that ends up in New York.

Thereafter he sits in a US prison for several years while immigration tries to figure out what to do with a Franco supporter; by 1943, thanks to his explosives expertise, he ends up in Los Alamos, where he serves coffee to people like Oppenheimer. Researching the atom on his own in his free time (while learning English) he ends up figuring out how to split the atom himself, which he explains to Oppenheimer while filling his coffee mug; thereafter he spends dinner with vice president Truman, upon which Roosevelt passes away at the same time, in 1945. When Truman becomes president, he asks Allan to work with a woman called Soong Mei-ling, the wife of the anti-communist leader of the Koumintang in China. His intended job is to once again explode bridges to stop the mobile movement of the Communist contingent led by Mao Tse-tung in the Chinese civil war. While there, all he witnesses are the soldiers getting drunk and chasing after local women in every harbour they stop at. Eventually they capture Mao Tse-tung's wife, which they intend to rape repeatedly while captured, so with the ship cook (who had converted to communism through observing what Allan also sees), Allan simply escapes with her and runs away, not interested in hanging around while still not interested in any side of the war. They return Mao's wife to him in the mountains, upon which Allan decides to go home - except the only possible way, from his perspective, is to walk.

The months go by as he treks across the Himalayas, often going in the wrong direction, until he comes across a couple of strangers on camels and befriends them. They make their way to Iran, with the men trying to make Allan into a Marxist and failing completely. By 1947 they reach Iran, wherein the two men are immediately shot for their political leanings and Allan is taken to Tehran and imprisoned in a secret police headquarters. A year later he manages to escape by thwarting the police chief's plan to murder Winston Churchill (who had made him feel put-upon after the handling of an assistant-secretary at the British Embassy). He simply causes his coffee cup to explode, which causes the explosive under the armoured car to explode, making the whole building collapse and letting Allan and a crazy Anglican priest (bent on converting the entire country) to escape. At the Swedish Embassy, Allan calls the White House to ask Truman to ask the Swedish Prime Minister to tell the embassy official to give Allan a passport and a way home, and he ends up in the same plane as Winston Churchill en route.

Back in Stockholm, the Prime Minister, having heard from Truman Allan's contribution to the atomic bomb in Los Alamos, tries to set him up with the Swedish atomic program, but the director's way of interview and questioning fails towards Allan in highlighting his actual skills and experience, so after returning to Stockholm, he is approached by a Russian physicist with a similar personality and interests, and thereafter joins him on a submarine to Moscow. They drink a little too much together, causing Allan to slip a bit of info on atomic energy (but not being too explicit); they end up having dinner with Stalin, which fails after Allan quotes a poem by an author that Stalin knows is anti-communist. Between 1947 and 1953 he does time at a working prison camp at Vladivostock with who turns out to be Einstein's younger half-brother Herbert, who also turns out to be extremely dimwitted.

After an escape from the compound (the sobriety had finally gotten to him) Allan and Herbert end up in Bali in Indonesia, after running into Mao Tse-tung in North Korea while impersonating Russian Marshal Meretskov (while the Marshal and his aid were trying to get a better view of the burning Vladivostock in the distance, Allan and Herbert managed to sneak up on their car, take their weapons, and ask them to remove their uniforms). They stay there for fifteen years, Allan mainly just for vacation time. Herbert falls in love with the hotel waitress (equally dumb) and with the money provided by Mao, he has his wife become elected governor of the island through political bribery and other schemes; vacation ends for Allan when "Amanda" (Herbert's wife's new name thanks to Herbert not being able to pronounce or remember her actual name) asks him to be her interpreter in France thanks to a new diplomatic position in the embassy there. While there, Allan recognizes the assistant to the French Interior minister as the Russian interpreter from his dinner with Stalin, realizes he's a spy, and notifies the French President, impressing American President Lyndon Johnson, also there for the diplomatic lunch. Having dinner together, Allan admits that he indirectly gave Stalin 'the bomb' as he did for the US (thanks to saying too much to his recruiting friend on the submarine over vodka) and as a result Johnson has him become a spy and puts him back in Moscow.

Until 1982, with the help of turning his old submarine friend Yuri Borisovich (who did figure out how to split the atom thanks to that and became medal-honoured under Kruschev and Brushnev) both of them act as spies for the CIA, sending out information that ranges between fact and fiction, and therefore directing how each president reacts in turn. Allan meets Nixon early on while presenting information, and the two share a coffee together; Nixon asks how Indonesian politics work thanks to his ties with Amanda and his experience down there, and Allan's explanation inspires the president, suggested in the novel to have inspired his actions in the Watergate Scandal. Thanks to Reagan's anti-communistic personality, Yuri and Allan present information that suggests the Soviet Union is gaining strength in its resources, leading to the eventual ending of the cold war. They both decide to stop in 1982, with Yuri and his wife dying a year later in New York, happy, and Allan returning, finally, to Sweden, with an overdue salary from the CIA. Throughout all this he's become fluent in, other than his native tongue of Swedish, English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, and Indonesian.

His life from then on to the present becomes boring and his only companion is a kitten that grows into an old cat that is eventually killed by a persistent fox. Allan, now 99 and angry and sad for the first time ever, decides to use explosives to kill it. He accidentally detonates his entire collection, destroying his property and sending him to the old folk's home. Decided to die that first night (he hates having no control in the home) he doesn't and instead just waits for his 100th birthday in the months to come.

His actual birthday is when the novel's present setting begins; an hour prior to the celebration (which includes the Mayor of Malmkoping) he decides to start life all over, exits through the window, waits at a bus station, steals a suitcase while the owner is in the bathroom, boards a bus, and begins the whole adventure that includes a criminal organization, a petty prosecutor, a hotdog stand owner, an elephant, and a yellow bus, and which finally ends back in Bali.

The entire story is very much like a constant adventure mixed with extensive travels. The only continents Allan has never set foot in are South America, Africa and Australia. In the present he decides to sort of go on the run (from the home, anyway) and this turns into an escape that creates a growing entourage of new friends and accidental deaths. Allan Karlsson has dinner or meetings with no fewer than eleven political leaders or notable people, ranging from General Franco, Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, Mao Tse-tung, Richard Nixon, Robert Oppenheimer, Charles de Gaul, and Lyndon Johnson. At the same time, he has absolutely no political ideas or opinions, or leanings. He literally just goes where the action, bed, food, and vodka is. He instantly switches sides throughout the wars or conflicts of the 20th century several times simply because he could care less about what ideologies were apparent and more about whether he'll get dinner. Or a good drink.

At the same time, the novel is pretty funny, specifically how the author will return to scenes involving people Karlsson has screwed up - for instance, "Bolt," whose suitcase Allan stole (the scene that got me to buy the novel), or Russian Marshal Kiril Meretskov, whom Allan single-handedly steals a medal-covered uniform and car from. As a result he has to spend several hours with his aid walking to the burning remains of Vladivostock in a prison uniform, and thereafter five days to get a new uniform and car in order to pursuit Allan. There are moments or actions or time-coincidences in the novel that hang almost on the absurd. It's quite imaginative.

I would recommend reading it (if you didn't simply just read the hastily-written, badly-worded synopsis I wrote above) as it's funny, inspiring, and interesting. It lightly covers a lot of world-changing events throughout the last 109 years in a good style that is easy to read and often simple and funny. Allan Karlsson is portrayed as an extremely mild-mannered individual who has endless positivity but at the same time does what he wants regardless of what might keep him somewhere. To get Yuri Borisovich's attention, a friend he hadn't seen for over twenty years, he stands outside an opera house in Moscow that he knows he'll be attending with a giant sign that says "I am Allan Emanuel Karlsson" despite the KGB officers also leaving the building (they of course think that such blatant obviousness would be idiotic and dismiss the person with the sign).

The book almost makes me want to be able to do that sort of thing in my life, travel, learn several languages, have some sort of influence. That would be pretty neat, at least to see the world anyway. I have very little issue with anything in the novel but for Allan's hugely uneventful life between 1982 and 2005; it's like the novel wanted to focus on world events from the first half of the 20th century rather than the latter, with Allan merely spending fifteen years starting from the 1950s on vacation in Bali. There's that, a minor meeting and lunch in Paris, and then a little more than a decade of spying before he returns home to look after a cat for the next twenty-three years. Nothing at all is mentioned during that time, at least in terms of world events, and I would have thought it interesting if Allan had somehow, one way or another, participated in the fall of the Berlin Wall perhaps, or the Tiananmen Square protests around the same time. Perhaps he could have decided to visit Cambodia in 1991 before helping/causing trouble for Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia in the latter half of the 90s. Maybe he could have decided to go for a hotdog at a stand across the street from one of those two giant grey buildings in Manhattan a minute before an airliner suddenly tore through the upper half of the skyscraper. Personally I think he would have had a better time of it, but I guess the author did have to give Allan a feeling of starting over again from the nursing home by having made his life rather empty in the last few years. And then again, he would have been eighty by 1985; the main character is portrayed as someone who never really noticed his age or realized he was getting old, but perhaps by that time he was starting to get a little tired. Then again, that doesn't seem to be the case at all when he instantly decides to miss his party, climb through a window, and steal someone's suitcase at one-hundred.

It was a good novel though. It did its job because I had difficulty putting it down (I always tend to binge-read if I like something). I think the author did a good job describing and putting together all the personalities, as well as pinpointing the smallest of events or coincidences in which to insert his main character. The novel mentioned on the back that it was similar to Forrest Gump - had Gump been an explosives expert. Yes, and if Gump had done the majority of his meetings and actions in the first half of the 20th century, not the middle of the second half. That's kind of a funny parallel, because in the movie, Forrest Gump happens to be the reason the Watergate Scandal became the scandal it was, while Allan on the other hand indirectly inspired it. In the movie, right after Gump calls the guard about men with flashlights keeping him up, it cuts to an interview of Nixon on TV announcing that he's resigning two years later. In the novel, the scandal is referenced in summary briefly before Allan says to Nixon's photograph in the paper that he "should have gone in for a career in Indonesia instead. [You] would have gone far there" implying that their conversation (over cognac) inspired Nixon's subsequent actions.

If you want a story with adventure, travel, humour, famous/infamous people, and absurdity, I'd recommend this. As a result I almost want to get out there myself. Maybe go to Gaza. Or the Eastern half of Ukraine. Or Syria.

Nah, I don't know how to explode things.

Red Cloud

Monday, September 15, 2014

'I Cry'

One afternoon, while driving, I heard a song on Boom that had a tone and nostalgic sound to me. A lot of the time, my synesthesia will mesh what I see of one thing with something else. In this case, how I synesthetically perceive the 1990s, and the sound of the song.

The 90s, looking back generically, look aqua blue to me. This isn't based on personal memory as it is on media as well as my synesthetic perceptions and alterations of them all combined. It's a mixture of pale blue, white, and some yellow mixed about based on context. This blue colour originated with a Loony Tunes introduction I used to watch on TV as a child, where Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck strut in front of a blue stage curtain. Music videos by artists like Seal (Kiss From a Rose), Hanson (Where's the Love), Oasis ('D'You Know What I Mean?'), The Verve ('Bittersweet Symphony'), as well as media artwork like the cover of The Philosopher Kings' debut album or the movie posters for Space Jam or Matilda or Reality Bites all have a large blue or white colour scheme in/on them. I can even top it off with Eiffel 65's one-hit wonder 'I'm Blue (Dabadee).' Or that silly pop band called Aqua. The majority of stuff from that decade are just blue and white, in artwork or video or whatever.

This song was like the epitome of 90s pale blue/white, including yellow.

It gives me a scene and context that is exactly how I'd look at the 90s: Dreary, cold out, maybe winter with white cloudy skies or a meek sunny day with a dreary overtone to it. All covered in a shade of pale blue. People were just getting along and hoping they'd make it through the day or month, no worry of AIDs or HIV or whatever. For some reason I put on the lens of a twenty-something who is worried about all this stuff at the time, young and inexperienced but adult. Maybe the perspective of someone in that Reality Bites movie (though I've never seen it - I've only read up on it on Wikipedia out of interest). Maybe from the perspective of my parents, who were both in their late twenties in the early 1990s. I was only five when this song came out, and had no dreary perspective whatsoever (considering I was finishing junior kindergarten, or starting senior kindergarten, at the time).

I like the guitar parts in the song. They sound bright, which I like, and give me that yellow-white. Like a pick-me-up in that dreary landscape, or someone who is reassuring you in troubled times. Which makes sense considering the song seems to be about someone empathizing or sympathizing with the subject.

What I learned about the song was that it came out in 1996 and was (as I expected) by a Canadian band called Bass is Base. Two guys and a woman out of Toronto. This is an example of a song in which, as soon as I heard it, thanks to my synesthetic perceptions meshing together, I expected it to be 90s and Canadian (to me, the song sounds somewhat similar to 'Love Song' by fellow 90s Canadian band Sky.

That does give me a somewhat similar blue colour.

Anyway, if I were to grade 'I Cry' as a review, I'd give it a B+ on both counts. I like the imagery it gives me. Maybe I should go on a 90s Canadian music discovery or something, considering I've covered the 80s in Canadian music, and here I am finding some good nostalgic gems from the 90s that are Canadian as well. More to add to that list, of course.

Bring on the pale blue. I do enjoy perceiving all of it.

Red Cloud

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A 'B' in Angst

Recently I've come to now and then play 'Walk Like an Egyptian' by the Bangles. It was in that list of songs I put together in June - I'd listen to it, basically. When I realized the song was in B, though, my interest rose and I started playing it now and then.

I first saw it on TV somewhere. It was probably that old Video on Trial show on MuchMusic. It used to be kind of funny to watch as comedians picked apart a song's music video (and usually the song itself). They had an 80s version that included this song.

There are only two songs by that band I'm familiar with, this song as well as 'Manic Monday,' which I originally thought was by 10,000 Maniacs due to the voice sounding almost exactly like Natalie Merchant's. That's just me of course - their voices aren't exactly the same, but I thought that was how Merchant sounded if she sung in a higher register. I hear 'Manic Monday' a lot more often than I ever hear 'Walk Like an Egyptian' both at Wal-Mart as well as on my radio. It doesn't sound anything in my opinion like the other song.

The lyrics weren't written by The Bangles apparently, but by someone else who also decided who sang the lead lyrics. This caused some resentment from the drummer who was pushed to the background vocals and further had her drums filled in by a drum machine. I wonder why they did it that way?

Lyric-wise, the song seems to simply just be about people walking like an Egyptian; the music video intersperses footage of the band playing with images of people actually walking that way on the streets or pictures of celebrities and notable people animated to move that way through visual effects.

The gem for me here is the slightly dark tone of the music itself. The majority of the song is in B major. On its own, played on the piano, the chord is a lime green/aqua blue colour. In this song, this context, and on the guitar, it's a bright yellow. I tend to view it synesthetically in a westward direction, and the way its played - just lazily strummed over and over - gives me quite an atmosphere, personality, ideal and context.

It gives me a sullen teenage girl who is bored, restless, and has a sort of anger, perhaps even bitterness. Of course, being B, the girl is my type. Maybe she's into motorcycles. I can visualize her with a black leather jacket. She doesn't listen to anyone, makes her own rules, moves about on her own. This is all through how the guitar plays, and helped by the accompanying bass line. Not interested in beating around the bush. The end of the song is joined by this riff that plays along with the guitar, which makes me imagine that this girl and her friend(s), riding along, are joined by their boyfriends who make it interesting. They're more light-hearted and comedic than sullen or bored and pick the rest up. This idea is created by how silly or clownish the riff sounds.

The song is good to me when it causes my synesthesia to very directly create a personality or face and character that I find attractive and then put it in a light that accentuates this more. Blunt. No-nonsense. The 'B' in a sort of late teenage angst. The backing voices that make the 'whoa' parts can be alluded to me as a sort of imagination of great adventure, through the eyes of this bored girl.

To finish, the song is straightforward, and if I were to try to listen to all the fast-paced lyrics, probably interesting as well, and it gives me an appealing image, so it does its job for me.

I'm pretty sure the person who uploaded that wrote in mis-heard lyrics.

Music: A-
Lyrics: B

The lazy way that guitar's quite effective.

Red Cloud

Monday, September 1, 2014

70s VS 10s, The

In several books and other references, I've read that the 1970s is retrospectively thought of as the 'Me' decade. In double-checking, it was writer Tom Wolfe who coined it. Then I ended up looking at each Wikipedia article on the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and 10s, and now here I am, two hours later, finally completing this sentence.

It's something I've been comparing with the present. People forty years ago were apparently more self-interested, more focused on what their wants and needs were, instead of what I read as the more communal dynamic of the 60s. To me I just get an image in my head of groups of counter-cultures and free-thinking university students. I'm grossly uninformed on the subject, but the general idea remains - people were more in tune with themselves than others back then, and I'm thinking about it because of today's social culture.

My generation may as well be very similar: We post about everything on Facebook; we have phones that are also cameras and digital video cameras. We spend probably half of our time on the Internet posting stuff to Tumblr or Instagram or Twitter. Can you believe how unendingly narcissistic this sounds? What do people take the most pictures of? What's the most photographed subject? The photographer's face. The whole 'selfie' phenomenon that everyone's into right now. People enjoy taking pictures of themselves regardless of the time or occasion and posting it online somewhere. We enjoy talking about interests in a forum like Facebook or Twitter, or painting our emotions or feelings or focuses on Tumblr or our own blogs. I'm no different - while I don't take five selfies per day or use Instagram, I'm on all the rest, as well as Flickr (though I hardly ever post anything at all on there anymore). Everyone has a YouTube channel; everyone has a Facebook profile.

I once had a Facebook friend who posted pictures of every meal he ate that was not at home. He wasn't a gourmet critic or anything, because it went way further than that, to the point he posted every single location he travelled to, provided additional comments, posted every single random thought that went through his head, and every video he shot of every video game he played. If you hung out with him anywhere at any time, your location would be checked-in, your name tagged, and the whole thing further commented on by him; this included pictures of you and a picture of the location, food if applicable. He had over a thousand friends because if you said hello to him he would add you. My newsfeed became his whole world for me to watch/read/comment/be amazed by, if that was his intention.

Of course, I'm not saying every person born between say, 1986 and 1995 are like that. My point is that technology has changed and advanced to our complete advantage when it comes to self-promoting ourselves or talking about ourselves. This is the Me Decade times ten, where everyone posts selfie pictures and tweets links to their favourite artists and reblogs gifs of their favourite TV show on Tumblr. It's all about Me. And let's not forget the celebrities that only enhance this and ultimately further the world of fandom and gossip by Instagramming their choice of dress or having infantile fights with each other over Twitter.

There's a good aspect to this and a bad one. Information sharing and communication is never an issue. It's just that simple saying where too much of a good thing isn't necessarily good. What are you doing if you spend all your time updating statuses on your smartphone? Every time I go on my break at Wal-Mart, the young adults in the breakroom almost say nothing to each other. They stare at their smartphones. They're texting or online. Not that the room is completely devoid of speech or socializing; the older people will easily talk to each other, and maybe, maybe, a couple of guys or girls my age will have a conversation (with a few interruptions with their phones once or twice). Does everyone live online or in person? Are you so obsessed with how you look and how many views/favourites your selfie will get that all you virtually care about is you?

We have to learn to find a middle ground. No doubt a lot of us have. But the whole social construct, in my experience anyway, seems to have shifted from talking to staring at phones and posting online. In general, anyway. When I re-added all those friends on Facebook, my newsfeed didn't change too much. I didn't get a huge jump in added posts from people. Obviously they're living their lives in the real world, which is good. I hardly post more than once a day, maybe. I used to post like crazy, but I've managed to stop relying on it so much. I think some people have the unhealthy idea that Facebook gives them friends or a social life when it's just a painting of selfies and irrelevant information you'd rather be a part of or the source of instead of just watching. I'm thankfully not as personal on here as much anymore than I used to be. My posts here tend to be very music-focused, or observation-based such as this one. It wasn't always like that (2010 was a horrible year for that) but I've managed to alter the dynamic a little.

All of this is here to stay - all the information-sharing and social networking that makes Web 2.0 Web 2.0 - and it's neat to have and all. We just need to stop being so obsessed with ourselves or how we're perceived, stop focusing inwards and being so relentlessly narcissistic, and live in the real world again where everyone talked and had conversations and learned about someone over dinner or lunch or in class or at work rather than through a Facebook profile. All of that without being tagged in a location check-in or photographed or otherwise exposed via social media.

Middle ground, moderation, that's the key. Again, it's a general observation of what I see in today's social construct, not intended to be specific, and not everyone my age applies to this. And I'm not immune or perfect either. It's something to maybe try and work on in my opinion.

Red Cloud

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Because I'm again heavily into writing my scripts, I want to try putting down the funnier lines. Not every single one, just a few; I don't want to just give everything away completely. It'll be like Wikiquote perhaps.

01. Pilot
Ian: This isn't going to last, is it?
Sam: I remember the good ol' times in high school when we didn't have classes together.
Ian: How could you leave something on the seat next to you like that?
Sam: How could Marcin's classes be in the opposite direction?
Ian: I'm wondering the same thing.
Sam: No you're not.
Ian: Of course I am.
Sam: Am not.
Ian: You're being an idiot.
Sam: No, you are.
Ian: This won't last.
Sam: Am not.
Ian: Idiot!
Kevin: I live in Kanata. Yeah, see, it's about 13 kilometres from here in a straight line going slightly northwest from here.
Sam: I see. ...I don't know how many kilometres in a straight line Eganville is from here.
Kevin: You guys aren't close eh? Well, you should get used to it at some point. If I were in your shoes I wouldn't survive if I had your personality.
Ian: And what personality is that exactly? A disabled one? A tiny one?
Kevin: A pessimistic one.
Ian: Uh-huh.
Ian: He thinks our parents are watching him as he sleeps. You know, you remind me of Marcin.
Kevin: What? Photos? Martian?
Ian: Not Martian, Marcin. It's Polish for Martin.
Kevin: Why not just say Martin?
Sam: Hey Marcin! How was your day?
Marcin: Great! I saw Mark, Heather, Bradley, Samantha, Duncan, Haleigh, Vicki, Robin, Brooke, Darren, and Leah!
Sam: Who?
Marcin: Where are you from?
Kevin: Kanata. It's boring there.
Marcin: Nonsense! I love it there! They have an amazing bedrock layer underneath all that soil!
Ian: Harold. I have something to say.
Mr. Harold Strum: Go ahead, I'm all ears.
Ian: We like you.
02. My Sister Blackmailed Me
Kevin: You're like twins, do you two share the same taste in girls?
Ian & Sam: No.
Marcin: Hey guys! I'm in between classes and thought I'd stop by since none of my other friends have coincidentally engaged me.
[Ian and Sam gawk while Kevin looks around with bewilderment]
Marcin: Newman? Lyndsay Newman? Oh, I know who you're talking about.
Sam: Really? What do you know?
Marcin: Nothing much in particular. I just know her older sister's dating a friend of my friend Lauren's cousin Tom.
Ian: Now how do you put that together? How?
Sam: You're a good wingman, Kevin. This is helping.
Kevin: I do my best. Oh, my god, oh my god, I can't wait for this...
Ian: Wingman, you're over-psyching yourself again.
Kevin: Shoot. You're right. I'll calm down. Thanks for helping coach me along.
Ian: No problem, I try my best to be the best impartial person who walks on the right side of you two.
Sam: Technically, she said no.
Ian: He pulled up to a blonde at a bus stop once, rolled down his window, and blasted 'Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into my Car' by Billy Ocean from the radio.
Sam: Guys!
Kevin: Who's Billy Ocean?
Kevin: I knew it!
Sam: Knew what?
Kevin: You two are just like the twins you are! You both like girls at the same time!
Sam & Ian: That doesn't make us alike!
Sam: You haven't heard the end of this. Come on, Kevin.
Kevin: Good job, Ian!
Sam: Let's go!
Ian: We're twins but we're nothing alike.
Lyndsay: Really? You sort of look alike.
Ian: And there, you come to the end of the list of similarities between us other than age.
[Sam and Ian put up their hands]
Mr. Wakefield: Yes?
[Both think the professor was pointing at him]
Sam & Ian: Can I go to the bathroom?
Kevin: See! You twins do think alike!
03. Parties Interfere with My Records
Kevin: Sam?
Sam: No, you talk to him. He's my brother and I've spent eighteen years talking to him.
Ian: Fourteen. You couldn't even talk until you were four.
Lyndsay: (On the phone): Yes...yes...yeah...that's probably a good thing, Hen, I'm sure. Super-sure. He made a blanket fort? Why? Private time? Sounds weir...nice. No, I meant nice. I meant nice! It IS a good thing! Okay, I'll talk to you later. [Hangs up] Sigh. They seem so perfect together.
Henrietta: Is that your boyfriend I just met?
Lyndsay: Yes! We had our first date a few days ago. That's why I couldn't come Halloween shopping with you. I told you he wasn't pretend.
Sam: You look like I just dragged your mind into the trashcan on my desktop. Delete!
Ian: I think Lyndsay's my girlfriend.
Ian: I don't know her last name.
Marcin: Oh, yeah. My cousin's friend's barber's daughter. That's right. They have a shop on Greenbank Road.
Ian: Marcin, what else do you know?
Marcin: Well, I've never had a haircut there but I heard they're a family-owned business so I bet you it's first-rate.
Marcin: There's a positive to every outcome, bro. Remember that.
Kevin: Ian! What are you doing here?
Ian: Marcin invited me. Just checking it out.
Kevin: That's great! I don't know where Sam is.
Ian: Did you make this? [Kevin is under a blanket fort]
Kevin: No, some bloke named Brett did! He's in the washroom, I'm just holding the fort until he comes back, he's so cool!
Lyndsay: Hey Sunshine.
Ian: I'm Ian. I'm not Kevin pretending to be Ian.
Lyndsay: I know. I'm not drunk like your brother is. And I'm not Henrietta pretending to be Lyndsay, just in case.
[Marcin arrives in an unusual costume].
Marcin: Hello, gentlemen.
Sam: Hey, Mar...
Ian: Cin. Nice hat.
Marcin: I thought I'd do half and half this year.
Lyndsay: Where's Sam and Kevin?
Ian: Oh, they're off with Marcin. Said something about going to get a haircut.
Sam: This is awesome. Next time I kill you, Kevin, I'll have these spikes to help me.
Kevin: They won't penetrate orange hair.
04. Everyone Deserves my Good Humour
Sam: You've never met the guy.
Ian: I don't think I ever need to.
Kevin: Oh come on, you can't judge someone you've never met.
Ian: What do you think everyone does within the first few seconds of meeting someone?
Sam: Well, if you're Marcin, you say something like "Hi! I remember you from somewhere. Let me think - oh! My sister's boyfriend's cousin's aunt's grandmother's godchild's best friend in childhood!" Or something just as discom...discom...discombobulatte.
Ian: What!?
Kevin: I think he means it confusing?
Ian: No, I think the best word is convoluted...but I'll be dishonest if I don't feel a bit discombobulated right now.
Sam: Ian, we've got a suppository for you.
Ian: A suppository? I don't want one.
Sam: Oh, I think you'll like it.
Kevin: Sam, that's not what a suppository is...
Ian: Why the heck would I like something jammed up my ass?
Sam: ...Well it's not like there never is anything up there.
Ian: It's not like I've ever been on a date before, this'll be my first...fake time.
Marcin: I'm just here to observe and maybe meet some new people.
Kevin: What new people?
Sam: Hey Brent, how's it going?
Brent: Not too bad, hey it's a good thing that blonde walked in here, I was sort of following her, I could have missed this. What's up guy?
Ian: What's Brett like? Apart from the blanket fort he made of my bed the other week, I don't know much.
Ian: Can I ask what he's like?
Henrietta: Of course. He's an inch taller than me and likes the word 'optimum' right now.
Lyndsay: I would have thought there was a lot more depth to him.
Henrietta: Oh he's nothing if not deep. Ian, there's no doubt my sister's probably a fun phase for you at the moment, so I'll just say that when you find a girl that makes you feel like you, keep her close and don't let her go.
Henrietta: Would you call Ian the optimum boyfriend?
Lyndsay: No...
Henrietta: Would Ian call you the optimum girlfriend?
Lyndsay: No, but...
Henrietta: My advice stands.
Lyndsay: No, it doesn't! We wouldn't call each other 'optimum' simply because we wouldn't use such a silly word!
Henrietta: Suit yourself.
Ian: Henrietta?
Henrietta: Yes, Ian?
Ian: I like you.
Lyndsay: They're the only couple in the world that would wear a silly Halloween costume for dinner at a restaurant.
Ian: I don't understand how you two got into such a dramatic argument over a plot element in Finding Nemo.
Benny: But what happened to Sarabi? She just disappear? Mufasa was trampled to death and the cub just ran away.
Marcin: I never thought of that. But I guess, when I saw The Lion King, I was just too young to consider that.
Lyndsay: Okay, I think we're done with this relationship nonsense.
Ian: Really? I was starting to enjoy it.

Hopefully I didn't go into too much depth. Otherwise I think those quotes aren't too bad. I restate that none of those names are based off of anyone yet I did get them off of people around me, past and present. Only Marcin and Brent are remotely based off of the real people they're named from.

Red Cloud